Here are 17 tactics experts use to optimize Facebook ads to get more results and increase return on ad spend (ROAS). Steal this playbook and checklist — examples included.
Optimize Facebook ads: 17 tips
- Measure the metrics that matter
- Focus on the campaign objective
- Build a full-funnel Facebook ad strategy
- Automate budget distribution
- Get the first 50 conversions efficiently
- Add more ad creatives to the rotation
- Automate creative optimization
- Use dynamic creative tools
- Repurpose user-generated content
- Maximize ad placements
- Align landing pages with ad creatives
- Retarget engaged audience segments
- Exclude certain audience segments
- Expand the target audience
- Set frequency caps
- Learn from split-testing
- Scale ad sets strategically
I’ve run Facebook ad campaigns for nearly 10 years. In that time, I’ve seen plenty of campaigns that spent their ad budget without getting reach, clicks, or conversions — at least at first.
Facebook campaign optimization is never a quick fix. But with deliberate and proven steps, you can take an iterative approach to optimizing ads and improving return on ad spend (ROAS).
In this article, you’ll learn how to optimize Facebook ads using my best tips and recommendations from five Facebook ads experts I interviewed, including HawkSEM’s own Sam Yadegar.
1. Measure the metrics that matter
Ads Manager reports on dozens of metrics. But not all of them matter for your digital marketing strategy.
To measure campaign results, you need to know which metrics truly matter for your campaign. That way, you’ll know what’s working and what isn’t — and you’ll know where to focus your optimization efforts.
Start with your campaign goal and focus on a relevant metric. Here are some examples:
- Awareness: Reach and impressions
- Traffic: Clicks and click-through rate (CTR)
- Engagement: Video views or messages
- Leads: Instant forms or messages
- Sales: Purchases, bookings, or signups
Make sure to monitor the cost of your desired result, especially if you want to decrease ROAS. Ads Manager automatically tracks this metric in the “Cost Per Result” column.
I also recommend tracking some upper-funnel metrics. For example, it’s helpful to monitor reach and clicks to make sure your ad is delivering efficiently and driving engagement.
This approach can help you investigate issues with ads. For example, if your ad is getting a lot of clicks but not many conversions, you might have an offer issue or a landing page problem.
Although Ads Manager can tell you a lot about the cost of your ads, I recommend using other metrics to cross-check results and get more insight into conversions. For example, Google Analytics and ecommerce platform metrics are good places to start.
In addition to Ads Manager, “we use Supermetrics to pull the key metrics like CTR, CPC, and conversion rate to a Google Sheets dashboard for quick daily checks,” explains Katharina Larikka, CRO & Marketing at Droppe. “For a deeper analysis of users, we check Google Analytics and Hotjar to see what users who come from Facebook ads do on our website.”
2. Focus on the campaign objective
Not every ad is designed for traffic or sales. That means not every ad should prompt people to click or shop.
When you write ad copy or choose call-to-action (CTA) buttons, match the language with the goal of the campaign. Ads Manager allows six campaign objectives, ranging from brand awareness to sales.
For example, the Google Ads ad below focuses on getting prospects to watch the video so they can learn about the platform’s AI-powered ads.
Curious about how to use Facebook lead ads? Follow the example of Stripe’s great B2B Facebook ad below, which invites business leaders to download a report on growth.
3. Build a full-funnel Facebook ad strategy
A single ad isn’t enough to achieve most conversion or revenue goals — especially at the price you want to pay per click or conversion.
That’s why you need a full-funnel Facebook ad strategy. In short, this type of strategy includes campaigns that target each stage of the funnel:
- Awareness: Quick introductions to the brand and informative overviews
- Consideration: More in-depth educational content like testimonials or downloadable reports
- Conversion: Limited-time offers and prompts to shop or sign up for a free trial
“Brands should consider that different campaign types have different optimization roles. At HawkSEM, we typically run full-funnel Facebook ads strategies and optimize each part of the funnel differently,” explains Yadegar. “When done right, top-funnel awareness seamlessly drives middle-funnel consideration and bottom-funnel transactions.”
But what kind of results could you get from a full-funnel Facebook ad strategy? Sam shares, “We implemented a three-tier approach for our client ThriftBooks and helped them achieve a 50% higher average order value (AOV).”
Our ad experts use a similar approach for other ad networks as well. A full-funnel strategy is typically best for PPC optimization too. We track and optimize results using our own ConversionIQ platform, which offers multi-touch attribution throughout the funnel.
4. Automate budget distribution
The more flexibility you give Meta with your ad budget, the better your campaign will likely perform. In other words, increased budget automation can lead to improved results.
Ads Manager gives you tons of options to control when and how Meta spends your ad budget. For example, you can create ad set budgets, daily budgets, or even ad delivery schedules.
My recommendation? Don’t use any of those settings unless they’re absolutely necessary. Here’s how to optimize Facebook ad campaign budgets:
- Opt into Advantage campaign budget, allowing Meta to prioritize top-performing ad sets — unless you’re required to spend a certain amount on each ad set, or you’re planning to scale.
- Use lifetime budgets instead of daily budgets — unless you need consistent spend and delivery every day the campaign or ad set runs.
- Avoid setting an ad schedule and let Meta choose optimal times — unless you need ads to deliver within a set time frame, such as during your open hours.
5. Get the first 50 conversions efficiently
Regardless of the length of a campaign, the first few days are crucial. Getting 50 conversions efficiently can optimize ad sets much faster.
Why? Meta places all new ad sets in the learning phase. During this period, Meta tests ad delivery.
But as the system learns, performance can be unpredictable. Ad sets leave the learning phase when Meta has optimized delivery and stabilized performance.
Typically, the learning phase ends once the ad set reaches 50 conversions, based on the optimization event you select.
Here’s how I recommend getting conversions faster:
- Set a higher budget at first to get conversions quickly. Then scale down as necessary.
- Choose a less expensive conversion event. For example, try “Add to Cart” instead of “Purchase” at the ad set level.
- Avoid editing the ad set while it’s in the learning phase. Allow it to optimize and even out.
- If you have to make edits, do them all at once. Editing creatives or changing budgets by over 20% causes ad sets to reenter the learning phase. Every time the learning phase restarts, ads de-optimize.
Does this sound too complex? Our Facebook ads experts can help. Reach out to learn how.
6. Add more ad creatives to the rotation
Over time, ad fatigue can cause a top campaign’s performance to plummet. Adding more creatives keeps campaigns fresh and gives Meta more cost-effective ways to deliver the ad.
Look at it this way: If your target audience keeps seeing the same ad on Facebook, they’ll probably stop engaging. They might even hide the ad if it gets too annoying.
“If you notice that your ads are becoming too repetitive, consider refreshing your creative content, introducing new messaging, or adjusting your audience targeting options,” suggests Sean Walsh, aviation and travel marketing specialist and founder of Pilot Passion. “By achieving a balance between reach and frequency, you can sustain the interest of your target audience, enhance ad performance, and optimize your return on investment.”
The more creatives you develop, the more options you have to showcase your offer. Check out the Brooklinen ads below.
Both ads offer free hand towels with purchase. But the creatives are completely different, using different tactics to grab attention and convert customers.
7. Automate creative optimization
Not sure if your creative assets will stand out enough in the feed? Suspect they might perform better with more (or less) text? I recommend letting Facebook Ads Manager’s advantage creative feature handle a lot of these minor details for you.
At the ad level, select an image or video. Then enable “All Optimizations.” This setting allows Meta to add templates with text, change aspect ratios, apply filters, and even add music to the creative. Note that optimization options vary for images versus videos.
How much can these settings improve your ads? Ads Manager states that adding standard enhancements pictured above can decrease your cost per result by 3%.
8. Use dynamic creative tools
Can’t decide which creatives would promote your offer best? You don’t have to guess or risk getting it wrong. Instead, you can choose more than one without setting up multiple ads.
Ads Manager’s dynamic creative tool lets you select multiple creatives and copy assets. It then combines the elements automatically, creating ads that are most likely to appeal to the audience.
With the dynamic creative tool, you also have the option to link a catalog to your carousel ads. For example, setting up product feeds for ecommerce worked well for Droppe.
“Dynamic product ads were the only ones generating sales for our ecom. The campaign had a click-through rate (CTR) of over 5% and a cost per click (CPC) of only €0.30,” explains Larikka. “This was a huge improvement over the static photo ads we had in the first test. Aligning products with the right audiences was definitely what brought success to our Facebook ads.”
9. Repurpose user-generated content
Not all of your ad assets have to come from your in-house team or your creative agency. Instead, experiment with user-generated content (UGC) from customers or influencers.
Over 60% of consumers report that they’re more likely to click ads and other content featuring UGC because it appears more authentic than branded content. And almost 75% of consumers think user testimonials are more trustworthy than branded copy, according to the TINT study.
Follow Future’s lead and add social proof to your ads, like the example above. Or repurpose customer videos in ads, like in the DrinkLMNT example below.
10. Maximize ad placements
Creating different Facebook ad types just for reels, stories, or the feed limits where each one can show, causing performance issues. Instead, use all available placements by enabling “Advantage Placements.”
When you choose this option, you give Meta more opportunities to deliver your ads across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and the Audience Network at the lowest cost. That typically leads to more results at the optimal cost.
Should you ever choose “Manual Placements” instead? Yes, but rarely — and only if you select at least six placements for Facebook and Instagram ads.
Choose placements manually only when you have brand safety concerns or when you need to exclude a certain platform. For example, exclude the Audience Network if you need more control over which content your brand’s ads appear alongside.
If you want to use different creatives for various ad formats, I recommend using asset customization at the ad level instead. When you select media, use the “Crop & Trim” or “Replace” buttons under each format to choose the creative that fits best.
11. Align landing pages with ad creatives
Linking an ad to an irrelevant or confusing landing page can cause prospects to click away without converting. Always link to landing pages that relate to the ad and show prospects what they expect to see.
“Inconsistent branding across ads and landing pages can confuse Facebook users and lead to a drop in conversions,” advises David Godlewski, CEO of Intelliverse. “Carefully review your brand colors, fonts, and messaging to ensure they match your website’s design and overall brand identity. You must also maintain a consistent narrative throughout your ads and landing pages to tell your brand’s story cohesively.”
The Counter Culture Coffee ad above highlights a coffee subscription. The ad goes right to the correct product page on the company’s ecommerce site — rather than to a less relevant destination like a list of products. The landing page graphics also align with the ad design, creating a consistent experience.
12. Retarget engaged audience segments
When you retarget engaged audiences, you can essentially funnel prospects from the awareness stage all the way to the conversion stage. Remarketing is crucial for optimizing Facebook ad costs.
Ads Manager gives you several options for retargeting engaged prospects. Start by creating a new custom audience and choosing one of the options listed under “Meta Sources.”
Then build the audience. For example, you can retarget people who watched a certain amount of a video ad that performed well. You can also retarget people who opened your lead generation form or engaged with your Facebook page’s organic social media content.
If you’re running ecommerce ads, I recommend using Ads Manager’s built-in retargeting feature. Choose the sales objective and select a catalog at the campaign level. Then at the ad set level, choose who you want to retarget based on how and when they interacted with your products.
13. Exclude certain audience segments
Excluding select audiences is just as important as targeting the right segments. By excluding audiences, you can avoid wasting ad budget on people who won’t convert — or those who already did.
I recommend excluding people who already made a purchase or signed up for an event. Taking this step is especially important with campaigns for high-ticket items or offers customers can only claim once.
To exclude certain people, export a list from your customer database. Upload it as a custom audience in Ads Manager.
Then click the search bar under “Exclude people who are in at least one of the following” and select the audience.
14. Expand the target audience
The longer you run Facebook ad campaigns, the more likely it is that Meta will run out of cost-effective delivery options. If you notice your cost per result increasing, it’s a good idea to expand the target audience.
Meta’s lookalike audiences let you use ad targeting to reach people like your ideal customers or followers. But if you want to maximize purchases and revenue, I recommend creating value-based audiences.
At the ad set level, create a new lookalike audience. Choose one of the available value-based sources, such as a Facebook pixel-based audience. Then choose how similar you want the lookalike audience to be to your customers. I recommend starting with 1%, which is the most similar.
15. Set frequency caps
Optimizing audiences and adding more variety to creative assets can certainly reduce ad fatigue. But with enough time, any ad can appear repetitive to your target audience.
How frequently should your audience see your ads? Ad sets with 2.25 impressions per week are 80% more effective than ad sets with one impression per week, according to a Meta study.
To adjust frequency, set a cap at the ad set level. Note that this option is available for campaigns using the awareness objective only.
Keep in mind that optimal frequency for the average brand might not work as well for yours. Don’t hesitate to test out different frequencies for various segments.
“Showing too many ad campaigns to potential customers at the top-of-funnel stage can adversely impact campaign performance,” shares Emily Onkey, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Aplós. “To prevent this, we limit the number of times these visitors see our ads on their newsfeeds to about three views per month, allowing them to become familiar with our brand and offerings.”
“And, for visitors who frequently click through to our site often, their behavior demonstrates a high level of interest. So we increase the frequency range to 8-10 times per month, with approximately 5 different ads tailored to their specific interests and preferences.”
16. Learn from split-testing
Not every ad will be a home run, no matter how skilled you are with Facebook ads. If your ads are underperforming or if you’re trying a new tactic, I recommend split-testing.
You can easily compare two ads against each other using Ads Manager’s A/B test tool. Select the ad set you want to test and click the A/B test option from the Ads Manager menu.
Next, choose whether you want to duplicate the ad set you selected or if you want to test it against another ad set you already created.
Then choose a variable to test. Ads Manager lets you compare creatives, audiences, and placements.
Finally, choose the metric you want to determine the winner. I recommend picking the metric the campaign targets.
Let the test run and keep an eye on the outcome. Then analyze the results to understand which ad set won and why.
For example, did you try a new creative tactic? Did you test a new target audience? Use the results to guide the current campaign and future campaigns.
17. Scale ad sets strategically
After optimizing your Facebook ads and achieving your ROAS goals, consider scaling your campaigns. That way you can get more results while maintaining the same cost per conversion.
I recommend scaling Facebook ads over time. By increasing the budget by about 20% per week, you can avoid sending the ad set back to the learning phase and having to re-optimize the campaign.
You can increase the budget manually every week. But it’s much more efficient to set up an automated rule in Ads Manager.
Create a custom rule and choose the action “Increase lifetime budget by.” Then choose 20% and set the rule to apply weekly.
For the conditions, use the metric(s) that best align with your campaign goals. For example, you may want to increase the budget so long as the cost per result is below a certain amount.
3 Brands with winning Facebook ad campaigns
Looking for inspiration as you learn how to optimize Facebook ads? Check out these great examples.
Rocketbook’s campaigns have a ton of range, easily checking all the boxes above. Some ads feature branded creatives, while others include UGC-inspired styles.
All use concise copy that highlights the product’s features and benefits. And each has a unique CTA that speaks to the target audience.
While Haworth’s campaigns tend to use branded creatives, they nicely convey the upscale nature of the products. The ad below highlights features and benefits, making it ideal for the consideration stage.
Other ads include mini product tours, showcasing the wide variety of work-from-home products and inviting customers to take advantage of a limited-time offer.
Sheertex’s creatives are some of the most eye-catching I’ve seen. Every ad shows the brand’s tights being stretched in unusual ways, highlighting their durability.
If the creatives don’t get you to click, the offers probably will. Each mentions a limited-time deal, prompting customers to act quickly.
Checklist for optimizing Facebook ads
Identify the metrics that matter so you know where to focus.
With a solid strategy, you can iterate and build successful Facebook ad campaigns over time. But you don’t have to take a DIY approach and learn how to optimize Facebook ads yourself.
Book a free consultation with our Facebook advertising specialists and get expert help with your ads today.